By MARY CLARE JALONICK and MARK SHERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is expected to confirm Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Thursday, securing her place as the first Black woman on the high court and giving President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his historic pick.
Three Republican senators have said they will support Jackson, who would replace Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires this summer. While the vote will be far from the overwhelming bipartisan confirmations for Breyer and other justices in decades past, it will still be a significant bipartisan accomplishment for Biden in the narrow 50-50 Senate after GOP senators aggressively worked to paint Jackson as too liberal and soft on crime.
“It will be a joyous day,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as he announced Thursday’s vote late Wednesday evening. “Joyous for the Senate, joyous for the Supreme Court, joyous for America.”
Jackson, a 51-year-old federal appeals court judge, would be just the third Black justice, after Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, and the sixth woman. She would join two other women, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, on the liberal side of a 6-3 conservative court. With Justice Amy Coney Barrett sitting at the other end of the bench, four of the nine justices would be women for the first time in history.
After a bruising hearing in which Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee aggressively interrogated Jackson on her sentencing record, three GOP senators came out and said they would support her. The statements from Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney all said the same thing — they might not always agree with Jackson, but they found her to be enormously well qualified for the job.
Collins and Murkowski both decried the increasingly partisan confirmation process, which Collins called “broken” and Murkowski called “corrosive” and “more detached from reality by the year.”
Biden, a veteran of a more bipartisan Senate, said from the beginning that he wanted support from both parties for his history-making nominee, and he invited Republicans to the White House as he made his decision. It was an attempted reset from three brutal Supreme Court battles during President Donald Trump’s presidency, when Democrats vociferously opposed the nominees, and from the end of President Barack Obama’s, when Republicans blocked Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from getting a vote.